Florida Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz appears increasingly politically isolated amid a spiraling scandal over a federal sex trafficking investigation. Even for Donald Trump, a Republican political agent said, a 10-foot pole is not long enough.
Federal prosecutors would examine whether Gaetz and a political ally facing allegations of sex trafficking could have paid underage girls or offered them gifts in exchange for sex.
Few Republicans have rushed to offer any support for Gaetz, a three-term Conservative provocateur known for his support for Trump, high-volume attacks, sometimes against those in his own party, and frequent media appearances.
The Associated Press reported that several lawmakers and aides who spoke on condition of anonymity said Gaetz’s prospects of remaining in Congress were complicated by his unpopularity in his own party.
The Daily Beast, meanwhile, reported advisers begging the former president to be silent. Trump reportedly said the case looked really bad, although he also believed the allegations could be a slander against Gaetz.
I don’t hope anyone is guilty of anything but it looks like [Gaetz has] has a lot of explaining to do, Barry Bennett, a longtime Republican agent and former Trump adviser, told the website.
People underestimate Donald Trump’s political ear For something like this, a 10-foot pole is not long enough. The former president should stay as far away from that as possible.
Fox News has also remained silent. As Vox reported, the Gaetz case was not mentioned on the right-wing network Thursday, nor Friday until news anchor Brett Baier covered the allegations on his evening show.
Gaetz has been a familiar presence on Fox News, according to Mediate appearing on the channel 18 times in March. Shortly before word of the allegations against him broke, he reportedly considered stepping down from Congress to pursue a career in media.
Such plans are now under threat. Gaetz’s review is said to stem from a Justice Department investigation of Joel Greenberg, a former Florida tax collector indicted last year and charged with a number of federal crimes. He pleaded not guilty.
Additionally, CNN reported that Gaetz allegedly showed nude photos of women he slept with to colleagues in the House of Representatives.
Republican leaders have remained largely silent. But Gaetz spokesman Luke Ball has resigned.
Part of the investigation is to determine whether Gaetz, 38, had sex with a 17-year-old and other underage girls and violated federal sex trafficking laws, sources told the ‘AP, adding that federal agents suspected Greenberg might have seduced the girls and introduced a few. to Gaetz. Investigators would examine whether the two men had had sex with the same girls.
Details of the investigation were first reported by The New York Times, which also said Gaetz took ecstasy, an illegal drug, before having sex.
Gaetz said: None of the allegations against me are true.
Among the few lawmakers to voice their support for Gaetz is Georgia freshman Marjorie Taylor Greene, another rising figure propelled by media appearances and baseless conspiracy theories.
Minority House Leader Kevin McCarthy told reporters the charges against Gaetz were serious. Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the Democratic House, told reporters: If in fact these allegations are true, of course being removed from the judiciary committee is the least you can do. From what we’ve heard so far, this would be a matter for the ethics committee.
The Gaetz investigation has been around since at least the summer of 2020 and is said to have reached the highest levels of the Department of Justice. Investigators interviewed several witnesses and closely examined travel and financial records.
Greenberg was the elected tax collector in Seminole County near Orlando when he resigned last June after his arrest on charges such as harassment of a political opponent, trafficking a minor for sexual purposes and the illegal use of a state database to create fake driver’s licenses and other identity cards.
Since then, the case has climbed to more than 30 charges, including wire fraud and charges involving efforts to divert at least $ 400,000 from the cryptocurrency tax collectors’ office for Greenberg’s own use. Other charges accuse him of fraudulently attempting to obtain coronavirus relief funds.
The Justice Department is conducting a separate investigation into the extortion allegations, the AP reported. Gaetz said his family was cooperating with the FBI.
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